Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Simply Samplers – Book Review


Amazon Books

Simply Samplers by Cheryl Fall is a delightful instructional book for hand embroidery and cross stitch, great for beginners!

The book is suitable for adults who are getting into embroidery for the first time, and I also found it perfect for handing off to youngsters, to give them a good foundation for stitchery with plenty of starter projects to embroider. I handed it off to my 11 year old niece for her to read, explore, and experiment, and she found it easily accessible and understandable.

So here’s my review of Simply Samplers so you can see what it’s all about, in case you are a beginner looking for somewhere to start, or in case you have a beginner in mind that you’d like to help out!

Simply Samplers

Simply Samplers rests primarily on a counted work foundation. You can kind of see this from the cover of the book – the sampler on the front, while it features some surface embroidery stitches, is gridded like a counted sampler.

For young beginners especially, this can be a good thing. Working surface stitches on even-weave fabric is a good way for beginners to get the hang of consistent and even stitch length, tension, and so forth.

I remember one summer when I was teaching embroidery to kids. I had a couple students who really obsessed over “perfect” stitch length, to the point that they would measure and mark out dots on their practice fabric for each and every stitch. I could not convince them to do otherwise, but it really it slowed them down.

I handed them some Aida cloth I had in my stash, and they were delighted! They didn’t have to take the time to measure their stitches out on their practice fabric, and they were were able to learn the stitches more quickly. When they finally moved to their project fabric, graduating to plain weave, they embroidered nicely spaced stitches, without measuring. Hurray for even-weave fabric!

Simply Samplers

The book begins with the needful basic information on supplies and tools. Here, you’ll find information on fabric, needles, hoops, threads, tools here.

Simply Samplers

The next section: basic techniques, to get the beginner off to the right start before launching into any of the projects.

Simply Samplers

Here, you’ll find information on setting up your fabric, for both even-weave, counted projects and surface embroidery projects; tips on starting and ending threads; and pointers on transferring designs.

Simply Samplers

And then, the sampler projects. There are sixteen projects in the book. Eleven are counted cross stitch projects, from small and simple to a little more complex, and five are surface embroidery projects.

Simply Samplers

Along with several of the projects, there are other suggestions on finishing techniques, so that the stitched items can be used for something other than a framed piece.

For example, in the first project focuses on the little sampler and a scissor fob in the same style.

Simply Samplers

One of the most colorful samplers in the book is this counted thread band sampler. It includes stitches that can also be used in surface work. I think it looks like a lot of fun!

And the nice thing is, it’s all laid out in a pattern, so there’s no planning involved on the beginner’s end. And once the stitcher gets going on the sampler, there’s no reason why it can’t be expanded upon – there’s good potential for growth!

Simply Samplers

The surface embroidery designs are simple and fun, and they range from absolute beginner projects to projects suited for the beginner or beginner / intermediate stitcher.

Simply Samplers

There’s a lovely shamrock sampler for surface work…

Simply Samplers

…and this cute pumpkin one, too!

Both of these could easily be broken down for decorating the corners of flour sack towels and the like.

Simply Samplers

Finally, at the back of the book, you’ll discover a stitch dictionary featuring simple diagrams for the stitches used in the projects…

Simply Samplers

…followed by a section on finishing tips, including stretching, framing, and constructing into various items like ornaments, scissor fobs, and the like.

So, there it is! A nice little book for beginners that will familiarize them with counted work and surface embroidery, so that they can grow comfortable with the rudiments of basic stitchery.

Where to Find It

You can find Simply Samplers available through the following book affiliates:

In the US, you can find Simply Sampler through Amazon, available now.

And, worldwide, Simply Samplers is available through Book Depository with free shipping to most countries.


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(11) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    This looks a very instructional useful book for beginners which includes lots of photos and different techniques and lots of lovely projects to follow. This would definitely be useful for any beginner or as you say children who are interested in trying hand embroidery for the first time. Thanks for reviewing Simply Samplers and sharing your thoughts on this book and thanks for the give-away.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. I just love how new stitiching books these days are so full of colorful photographs and detailed diagrams! Thanks for another great review!

  3. I’m putting this on my list for Christmas to buy for my niece. She watches me do counted cross stitch and says it looks complicated, but this will simplify teaching her. Wonderful looking book!


  4. I love samplers because they are “quick” and fit in with my very hectic work schedule. My favorite piece was one I made for my mom. It captures the significant phases of a mother/daughter relationship in various silhouettes. My mom passed away last year but it still hangs in my parent’s (dad’s) home. Someday it will be mine.

  5. I have enjoyed doing projects from Victoria Sampler which offer different stitches to practice. I would like to eventually work on a Canvas project that is awaiting in my UFO pile.

  6. I am excited to see a book for the beginner that is so beautifully illustrated. I have loved needlework and would like to inspire and teach my nieces and a couple of neighbors. (possibly even a girl scout troop).

    This art lends itself to new and innovated ideas. I see so much possibility for the new modern girl.

    Thank you for sharing

  7. Hi Mary,
    I bought this book – Simply Samplers – from Amazon, and I love it! It’s a perfect book for beginners. I only have two “complaints.” . The first is the binding – I took mine to have it changed to spiral bound. How are you supposed to trace patterns from a book that won’t lie flat? Second, I’m not happy with the stitch instructions. i hink some of them are poorly drawn, without enough direction to them. So I pulled out my Right-Handed Embroider’s Guide for stitch instructions.
    Thanks for all you do, Mary. I look forward to every day’s newsletter with anticipation.

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